How to develop Mental & Emotional Resilience during challenging times.
The Corona Virus is not the first pandemic that happened throughout history and probably won’t be the last. It’s difficult for us to predict when this pandemic will be over – and this state of unpredictability of how long its effect will remain influencing our culture, economy, jobs, but most importantly our Health and Psyche.
Psyche does not only involve our psychology, but our overall state of being – that is mostly controlled by our Minds – creates a state of fear, anxiety and worry in all of us which at large impacts our Immune System.
Research shows that more than 85% of health issues admitted to healthcare premises are caused by stress, which wrecks havoc our immune system. Thankfully, today we have some dynamic tools and techniques backed-up by Neuroscience that can help us protect and rewire our Minds enabling us to Thrive.
After all, life will keep on throwing challenges on us, so having some practical tools that guard our Emotions never goes out of style.
“Biology gives you a Brain. Life turns it into a Mind”- Jeffery Eugenides
While we live in a culture that highly focuses on taking care of the body and giving less attention to what goes on above the neck, the truth is you are as healthy as your thoughts are, and disease only means dis-ease. This is not to say you should not focus on what you eat and how much you exercise, on the contrary, keep doing it if you are because the body and the mind are in constant communication and it’s a two-way stream.
Here are some practical ways to protect and strengthen your Mind through challenges;
- Develop the habit of being aware of your Thoughts
It’s vital and critical that you understand two things about your Mind:
YourMind is wired for survival– this is how we survived as a species, hence it is always on the lookout for danger (think negative news) because its role is to protect you and keep you safe;
Your Mind cannot differentiate between reality and imagination– think of a heated discussion you had some time ago with your boss or colleague, repeat the incident in details in your mind and soon you’ll find your heart is beating faster and your hands might be sweating ready for a fight or flight. So what can you do? Just like developing any habit, this takes some effort and practice. I call it “Intentional Excellence”. One of the key things I recommend to my clients is to Journal their thoughts while having their coffee in the morning and before bed time. Just pour everything out; the good, the bad and the ugly. Do it daily and make it a ritual.
- Stay Present: make it a point to be fully engaged in the task that you are doing for a set period of time. 25 to 40 mins is good enough before a 10 to 15 mins break. You can also have some reminders that help you do so, be it wearing an elastic on your wrist, or a tone reminder on your phone every one hour. This helps you to not travel to the past or future that are the main source of anxiety and fear. Keep a Thought Notebookhandy so you can register your thoughts and examine them later during the day, consciously and objectively.
- Craft a “Silence & Breathing “Me” time”
When we are running on autopilot mode or in the fast lane, it’s easy to believe ourselves when we say “Oh, I don’t have time to breathe”. Here is the truth: we all have that 24-hour lot a day. If you work for 8 hours, sleep for another 8 hours, then you are left with a total of 8 hours. Scheduling 10 minutes a couple of times during the day to sit in silence,or even listen to calming music while doing some deep breathing, is crucial. This time is not going to kill your day, but it will certainly kill the chatter in the Mind and ensures that your Brain gets enough oxygen so you can think objectively and be less reactive.
In the beginning, you’re going to find thoughts racing from everywhere! That’s totally normal and ok! What you need to do is to learn how to “watch them like clouds or sheep passing by” and then re-direct your attention to your breath. Not by forcing, but by allowing and being at ease.
- Set Healthy boundaries and Systems
We are all leading busy demanding lives and I see most of the people rushing to tend to others’ needs and demands while neglecting their own. While it’s something we are conditioned and accustomed to under the name of “life is tough and all about sacrificing ourselves”, the truth is none of us can run on an empty tank.
First, you need to identify those vampires. Whether they’re people who eat up your time and energy, or tasks that add nothing to your life or even get the needle moving. A simple exercise I do with my clients, is to take an inventory of their daysand list not less than fifty daily things they do. As you go through the list, you’ll be surprised with how many things you can totally ignore, some you might delegate, others probably reschedule for the weekend.
Create a dynamic system or schedule around your priorities that you can follow. You can help colleagues or family members do the same, which helps in creating healthy boundaries and respecting each other’s well-being and work, and helps – at the same time – in relieving some unnecessary tension.
- Guard your sleep hours
I cannot emphasize this enough. Sleep is not only to make your body rest from the fatigue of the day, it’s the time your brain uses to detox itself through flushing out toxins – that build up during your waking hours – and consolidating memory.
In addition, it’s important to know that lost sleep is lost! You cannot make up for some lost sleep during the weekend. Here are simple steps for better sleep:
- Create a sleep ritual, be it a warm bath or a cup of herbal tea (no caffeine);
- Go to sleep at exactly the same time every day;
- Avoid eating at least 3 hours before bed so your Brain doesn’t get busy assimilating the food instead of detoxing. The same applies for Alcohol;
- Reduce your exposure to LED & blue lights – mainly originating from your screens – at least two hours before bed;
- Write down your to-do-list for the next day so your brain goes on detoxing instead of worrying about the next day.
I absolutely suggest that you get intentional about the above practices; no matter how hard or simple they might seem, their impact on your Nervous System makes a huge difference in how your carry yourself and what life brings to the table.
Finally, remember that, as simple and as easily dismissed they might seem to be due to their simplicity, your brain loves simplicity and hates multi-tasking. After all, we are multi-taskers and task-switchers.
Stay well, stay strong.
By, Jocelyne Elias, Life & Organizational Mindset Coach.
To know more about the author, visit this link.